While Noah-sized rain and floods ravage southern Texas and Louisiana, I continue to ponder the events in Charlottesville. I expressed my dismay and concern to a friend who is African American. I asked her how she was doing with all this ugly, explicit racism and its tacit approval by the POTUS. She said, “I prefer it this way. I want to know who my enemies are.” I responded, “Yeah, well, at least you know what you’re dealing with”—and I immediately caught myself and corrected what I said to—“but you’ve always known what you’re dealing with.” She said, “yes, but now YOU know what we’re dealing with.”
Indeed. What she said keeps replaying in my head. “Now YOU know what we’re dealing with.” And not only me—but most definitely me—and all light-skinned people, now really know the attitudes and the hatred and the fear that infects our national psyche and affects so many of our citizens. We can no longer deny what people of color have always been and continue dealing with in this country.
Perhaps this truth is what I call a “backdoor blessing”—something positive that God can bring out of something so awful. Denial of deep-seated racism is harder now when the ugly chants and angry violence of white supremacists litter our media. It adds necessary credence to the cry that Black Lives Matter—a movement that is not a passing fad, but a clarion call to rid our structures and hearts from the injustice, harm, and death that results from empowered bigotry.
Disasters like Hurricane Harvey, equalize us all and drive home the truth that we are in this together. We must invest in one another’s well-being and not just our own, or this planet will not survive. Our basic needs are the same—food, water, safety, shelter, family, love, purpose and meaning. Much of this is being washed away for our brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast; in times of crisis, it doesn’t matter the color of the hand that helps us. From Houston, the white supremacists of a couple weeks ago look even more ignorant and ridiculous—about as ridiculous as a white woman telling her African American friend that at least now she knows what she’s dealing with.
Photo: From www.thepoliticus.com and @HCOTexas